My research seeks to find ways to be gracious and intimate. To draw discussions in toward connectivity rather than exclusion.
The design of the human experience becomes the defining element of my work where research speaks of body and process.
It's time. A journey into the discovery of the self. Who we are, where we belong and how we can contribute to the humanness of the world. The shifting sands of education are here. If education is to reflect the needs of society, then what we need as Australians is changing. What do we need? What do you want for our children, our society? Come journey with me as I begin my three-year exploration of the future of education, where we have been and where we are going. What do we want as educators within education and how it can be achieved.
We all live in this world. In this endless moving, pulsating world. The rhythms of nature, our past, the present and our self, interact endlessly, stretching and atrophying the boundaries of our existence.
We ebb and flow with these currents, resisting, leaning into our surroundings. To learn is to let ourselves be changed by these currents, to realise that we are one connected along a flat and horizontal plane.
We often look flat, moving along timelines, comparing our present self with our past and future. Always seeking to move along that timeline, around what we believe is our medium, a central core which is a product of our social and historical environment.
Oscillation is bound within our existence, we always look to move, rarely finding the stillness to engage and recognise our core existence. But without a central core, our golden thread to bind us to ourselves and our world we constantly drift. To recognise our central core is to provide the roots from which we can reach out, grow, extend along our horizontal and vertical plane.
To align with contemporary views of education is to also align with contemporary views of research.
What if stories told us all we need to know? How do we extrapolate the essence of what shapes experience and how that guides us with our thinking through the use of narrative. The flow of thoughts, from one place to another, along a continuum interwoven with the tales of what it is to live and be alive. To look to narrative is to recognise the richness through which a story can provide data that is relevant and shapes and informs thinking. We are not tabla rasa, terra nulis, blank slates or vessels to be filled. To use arts-based research is to embody the phenomenological lived experience of our lives in order to collect data that is real and authentic. What will my data look like? How will it be interwoven with my life and the lives of others?
To provide knowledge that is valid is to provide knowledge that is embedded in truth. Genuine research becomes about establishing a lens through which the data can be viewed. Regardless of which kaleidoscopic view the research is viewed, it can be interpreted, questioned and negated. To align with a system of thinking, a world stance, a view, is to find a solid island on which to have a clear vantage.
To choose a vantage point, one that has a 360 view of the rest of the world and can see the conditions upon how our 'island' is exposed. Once the vantage has been chosen where, how and what to build then become of interest. Currently, to align with feminism has a strong pulling power for me as a researcher. I have always felt an under-tow toward challenging the patriachal systems that bound are thinking and oppress the femininity within education – expression, creativity and aesthetics. To look to policy and curriculum is to address Power and Ethics within the hermeneutic structures of language and how this shapes our engagement with the world.
We seek to fix things in order to compensate for our constant movement. Through power and control we look to order, procedure, outcomes to assert dominance over the fluidity of our existence. This becomes represented in the institutions, our habits.
Creating not a line, on which to dangle our life currencies, our experiences, joys and pains but reaching down to create a cube where our life bounces around. When you sing a note, it’s a vibrating, resonance that exists within a sphere, always bouncing, always moving. It is this constant movement of life that seeks us to gain clarity through control, static, rigid, crystalised actions. To address the feminine within my research is to relinquish the control, to be exposed to a fluid, creative and aesthetic view of reality which is soft and nourishing.
Skin is a living and breathing organism, skin is porous, skin lives and dies constantly. To look to the skin of our lives and to look to the skin of organisations and structures, curriculum and policy is to look to the container, vessel – the skin that holds it together. This skin is essential, without it, our world, including ourselves would be jelly. Over time we become entrenched in a groove and we forget that this skin is alive, and part of the process is that sometimes it sheds and grows back healthier and stronger. We don’t re-grow skin that is green with purple dots. The skin grows back, fresh, anew. To address the skin of education is to recognise that the death and life cycle is evident in all we do. We blame institutions for their non-human, machine like qualities. We apply metaphors like suffocating to many school situations. Studies show the effect of beginning teachers on our school institutions. The suffocation of souls that results. Possibly it is the skin of these institutions that has been turned from porous to stone. Like King Midas, in the capitalistic and greedy nature of our society, it has become our way of growth. A growth that doesn’t serve and eventually cripples, we all want more gold until even our food has been turned into gold, and we are starved of the nourishment that we need as people of the land and sea, not that far removed from the peasant and primal human beings of our past. To turn our policies and guiding philosophy from metal to earth is to turn away from the machines, robots and androids that we are becoming to connected, empathetic, curious, aware participants on this earth.
To make our policies porous is to recognise the flow in and flow out that occurs. Where energy in the form of ideas go in, some are used, and some move out.
When we breathe only 20% of the air we breathe is oxygen, the rest is a part of our atmosphere. Nothing natural and living is pure. No systems, studies, institutions are pure, profit and loss occurs within every step of our natural and man-made world. To breathe within institutions is to accommodate a level of difference whereby ideas flow in larger quantities than required. Rather than diminish the individual to confirm to structures the individual should have the potential to grow in a way that their contribution is bigger, larger and can move through the porous nature of policy and doctrine, some things will stay and be used as fuel for the organisation, some will leave. To make the individual bigger is to provide fuel for them so they can fuel the organisation.
What do teachers need to make themselves bigger? They need to use their whole self. Their body and mind move as one. If this is empowered, this becomes bigger, there is more momentum to move. What goes in, goes out. Energy in = energy out. Energy needs to go in.
The metaphor of the breath becomes a powerful way to communicate this message. Meditation has taken hold as a way to nourish. Possibly the breath can become a metaphor in itself. What an individual needs to breath, what outlet provides nourishment. For some it is painting, poetry, dance, the ocean.
What about the people who are yet to engage on that level of self? How do we open the portals to a more rich tessitura of experiences that can provide a springboard for nourishment and artistic growth? Through immersion in the arts, slow exposure, but there needs to be a motivation for some. This does not come naturally to all. If you see how to draw something in your mind, you really see. How do we slow people’s experiences down enough to allow them to draw the things in their mind to see, to paint the melodies they hear in order to hear, to have the empathy to interact with another’s point of view?
The answers to these questions are not easy. We need to look to models of how this has been successfully achieved. To look to the work of Maxine Greene and the Lincoln centre provides a model that opens up the doors to allowing educators to engage which their complete selves. By embracing their humanness they allow the skin of their institutions to become more human. They become awake to the world
No two individuals are the same.
Am I allowed to take a deliberate stance of where there are no answers, really only more questions. Can I suggest that the breath of life through institutions, is the philosophies and values that underpin them. This is not to side step from the progress of our education system, it is to stop to nourish the soil. To provide enough nourishment to consider sustainable practice. The vegetable we eat, the air we breathe, the products we consume are not as nourishing as they once were. The education system, built to facilitate the industrial age was never intended as a nourishing model. We are now looking to ways that this can be introduced. This means the courage to step away. Asserting our values. What are our values, what do we stand for? This means a rebuilding of how we think within educational frameworks.
Possibly this requires a period of dualism, parallel thinking that actively moves vertically against the recognised structures of current schooling. Schooling will continue. This is a given. Instead of trying to stamp and place ideals on a system that was never intended to have those, like a rose that grows dandelions, maybe we let the dandelions grow in another pot for now. Possibly the rose will think the dandelion is a type of weed, unnecessary. But eventually, over time, difference will be accepted and they can grow in the same pot. The rose has thorns, it is more mighty and powerful, it has a scent that is intoxicating, like power and capitalism. But overtime the dandelion and its resilience and strength can start to be recognised for its unassuming, individual beauty.
To research as a dandelion is to currently recognise myself as an outlier to popular thought. But the time has come, and together the dandelion chain can become strong and brave.
Together we can provide a model that is just as beautiful as the rose.
To discuss beauty, truth, bravery, consent, love, sublimity is to plant seeds of language that have the potential to grow.
We are what we read, reading changes us.
To infiltrate these words into curriculum is to nourish a skin that has turned to steal. Possibly in our lifetime we can only hope for a little bit of flex, turning the steal to leather. But we need to start growing that pot of dandelions and maybe the rose can have a chance to recognise that its thorns are not the only way.
These ideas are not new.
Everything was evolving at the turn of the Century – Dewey, Steiner, Montessori. The power of democracy, the role of the individual, the importance of aesthetics, learning through doing, it’s always been there. It’s a thing. It’s important.
The need for teachers to reclaim their professional autonomy and expertise and create important spaces for negotiation and experimentation in their classrooms. This is the thing. How can we do this. It's time.
Questions...hmmmm....where to start?:
Exploring the tension toward enabling aesthetic education?
How do we create more contemplation towards beauty?
Using Critical Feminist Theory to explore aesthetic education?
The agile mindset
Leaders as naturally inclusive
From a culture of exclusion to a culture of belonging
Aesthetics from the indigenous perspective
Increasing energy flow: Natural inclusivity, aesthetics and leadership
Beyond communities of practice theory as experience
Engaged leadership transforming through future-orientated design thinking
Confronting patriarchy in schools through creativity
The culture of belongs
Educational leadership recomposed through aesthetic education
Socially intelligent leadership
The soft side of leadership
The role of beauty in education, curriculum, policy and leadership
A tale from the field
Aesthetic education toward deeper levels of perception
Differentiation within leaders leads to differentiation within students
Creativity as thick curriculum
We are young until we are not.
Emotions are data. Embrace emotions, we teach humans. School is not a preparation for life, school is life.
Rigidity within complexity is toxic. This research is complex, it breathes, it moves, it is alive.
Life is beautiful in its fragility. Human experiences shapes the wisdom I seek.
Courage is fear walking
Sou bona (I see you and I welcome you)